My friend Mary recently got back from a cruise and loved it. She can’t wait to go again. It made me wonder, would I enjoy going on a luxury ocean liner like Mary?

After a night of obsessing and surfing the net for deals on the QM2 I decided ‘NO,’ a 10 day sail with an endless buffet table just wasn’t for me.

I saw myself jogging around the deck all night weighing myself after each lap. Then I’d pay some worker to help me steal a lifeboat before throwing in my watch so he’d row. I’d keep sex as my trump card.

Hey, land becomes important when you can no longer see it.

Ocean travel isn’t for everyone but it did make me think of the good old Staten Island Ferry, one boat I’ll always love since it was part of my childhood.

My Aunt Tillie (yes I had one, my mom’s sister) lived in Staten Island so we’d drive to the Battery before and even after the bridge was built (the Verrazano) with me out of my mind in the backseat. This is when you could still take your car on it. I forget who stopped that, Rudy Kazoodi or little Mikey Bloomberg. I will say this though, Guliani was the one who made it free, making it the greatest deal in New York City to date.

My father would drive our sky blue Impala up the ramp while my mother yelled, “Wait till the car stops Susannah before you hop out.” There was no time to lose you understand, not if you wanted a front row seat to see ‘The Lady’ plus get a hot dog first. (I wrote about her in ‘Statue of No Limitation.’)

If I had a ferry hot dog now I’d pass out but then, I dreamt about them beforehand. I loved how they smelled. “Like socks,” my Aunt used to say. She should only know they were the only reason I ever wanted to come visit her. The 2 of them were one in the same to the point where I could see her stuffed in a bun.

Once on the boat, my mother would scream, “to the right, go to the right,” on the way to Staten Island and “left, left,” on the trip back. When I was really little she’d say “look Susannah, Lady Liberty’s waving at you.” I still think that when I see her standing so majestically in the harbor.

My father, always worried about the car, never said much; something about his hubcaps, plus I think we embarrassed him. We’re talking about the same guy who shopped in his pajamas.

The other thing I remember is losing Mr. Poophead Smith, my beloved Teddy bear. I left  him on the seat and when my father went back to get him he was gone. I was truly heartbroken. I had him since I was born so his eyes were gone and he was missing an ear but who was I going to tell my secrets to? I had a big fight with Fluffy, our cat, before we left so without Poophead, I was pretty much alone.

(I just got all teary)

We never did get him back after both my mother and aunt made vast inquiries, or so they said. I only felt better when my grandfather told me Poopie went to join the navy like Abbott and Costello.

“But Grampa, Poopie can’t see?”

“Donta worry Susalina, he make friends; like brothers, they will take care of Senor Smith.”

Oh, to be 3 again.

I had a job once for Money Magazine that took place on a sailboat. I had to actually hang off its stern with a male model who was pissed they featured my legs and not his.

They ended up having to drug me. The make-up man gave me Valium because I just couldn’t bring myself to shimmy on out there especially with a guy who might push me over the side.

There I was calling everyone matey wearing shorts and a polo shirt trying to look sporty and self-assured. The final photo came out great thanks to Photoshop that touched up my dilated pupils along with the veins in my hands from holding on for dear life. And you thought modeling was glamorous. It’s a fashion jungle out there, especially on the high seas.

I may not be up for a fancy cruise but the ferry is another matter. I may very well hop on the express and head to Battery Park to glimpse Lady Lib.

After all, a girl could always use a wave, doesn’t matter how old she is.


About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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5 Responses to Cruising

  1. Ed Crescimanni says:

    This is so evocative. We used to take the Staten Island Ferry to a Boy Scout Camp for overnight hikes (which were essentially 3 evenings of adult supervised mayhem and discomfort). I felt like Papillon on the way to Devil’s Island. But the hot dogs and the harbor views were almost worth a weekend of freezing your ass off under damp canvas.


    • It always amazes me how much we have in common. I was a Brownie and wore one of those unfortunate brown uniforms with knee socks and a funny, little hat. The worse part was my mother was what you called a troop mom, or a big Brownie. There was no escape. Of course I made lots of pals because of those Chicken Parmesan sandwiches she’d pack in my knapsack.



      • Katherine Boyle says:

        I was a brownie, too! But brown’s my colour so I lovedthe uniform. A far cry from NYC and Staten Island – we used to go on the ferry across the Mersey. I lovedthe brownies. I lovedhow the woman in charge was called “Brown Owl”,but she was my friend’s Auntie Maryso we always got special treatment. It was fab. Love the Staten Island Ferry. It’s such a gem for giving that breathtaking view for free. The first couple of yearswe were here we always took our millions of visitors on the ferry and they were always impressed.


      • I bet you were a cute brownie. If only the uniforms had more dash. And I will always love the ferry. It still gives me a thrill and to think it’s free.



  2. merryprangster says:

    Oh, Susannah. I wish you could see some of the ferries I’ve ridden on. One like a raft for cars across the Green River in Kentucky. Only two or three cars would fit. Of course, you were only on it for about three or four minutes. You’d have to ring a bell to bring the ferryman out of his house and sometimes he’d even make you wait until he had a full load before he’d start the ferry up. I’ve even crossed the Mississippi on a ferry, but I think it was a little more sophisticated. The SI Ferry is a floating palace, compared.


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